Chapter 17 – Freedom Squad Nanowrimo

Chapter 17

“Last night, Freedom Squad may have been saving lives, but this reporter wants to know where Protector and Rockslide were? Are they recovering from injuries in their battles with Defiance, Death Queen and the other villains rampaging through the city? And in the meantime, progress continues slowly on cleaning up the monument to the original Freedom Squad. But first, news from the Northwest, where the hero team Vanguard defeated one of our escapees…”

Click.

Rigel turned off the morning news broadcast and put her boots up on one of the consoles in the Monitor Room. She groaned softly. “Why does the press have to be so difficult?” she asked no one in particular.

Rockslide rumbled beside her. He sat down heavily on the floor.

“I know,” Rigel thought to the massive stone superhero, “And I’m sorry, but you are a little hard to disguise.”

“I know,” he sadly thought in reply.

“Besides, you’ll have Starlight around if things get out of control, and you know what you need to do,” she thought back to him.

“Protect the Protector,” he thought back. “And put on a good show.”

“Right,” she responded. “Now, remember, what we are about to do is rather mad, but I need you to make it look good. I’d also like you to trust me with something. I want to alter your brainwaves slightly. Basically, I’m trying to make you less susceptible to mental attack. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Ace of Spades tries to do something to you once he figures out my plan.”

“I am ready,” thought Rockslide.

Rigel took her feet off of the console and walked over to the lumbering human-shaped pile of stones. One day, she’d find a way to return him to humanity, if it were possible. She hoped that if things did go wrong, he’d be strong enough to hold out.

As she delicately wove the psychic equivalent of a fortress wall around Rockslide’s mind, she began to question herself. She had sent both Dr. Lord and Daniel away. She had considered sending Protector with them, but she felt he was safer nearby. Starlight was in his room with orders to guard him. She felt that Alex was as safe as he could be with Starlight.

Despite everything she had done, she didn’t quite trust Freedom Squad Headquarters.

She finished with Rockslide’s defenses. They’d disintegrate within a few hours, but she hoped that it might help him just in case. She resisted the urge to check him and make sure that the Ace of Spades wasn’t trying to control him. That was the path that she feared, the path that led to abuse of power, the path that the Ace of Spades had taken.

All of the information that Cori had gleaned from Stacy King flashed through her mind. It had lead her to a single conclusion: Defiance had been right. The Ace of Spades was Psionicist, a former superhero. Unfortunately, the world believed that Psionicist was poor Carlos, which was exactly what the Ace of Spades wanted.

She wondered if he had grown frustrated with his ability to deal with super-villains, if he had become hamstrung by the law. Maybe he had become tired of not profiting off of his super-powers. If he had only stayed on the right side of the law long enough, maybe he could have been hired by an institution like Freedom Squad. They got paid as if they were professional athletes.

Rockslide tilted his head and examined Rigel closely. She laughed.

“Sorry, Rockslide, I was a little lost in thought,” she said. “The mayor should be here shortly.”

Ion was waiting outside the Monitor Room. “I think we should change the name of this place to Fishhook.”

“What?” asked Rigel.

“Well, it’s F… S… H… Q… Fishhook,” he said. He leaned close, “Do I have to be Hornet?”

“Yes,” she mouthed. “Will you zap the place?” she whispered.

One blue flash and popping noise later, and the lights went out. “One fairly impressive localized EMP at your service. Okay, I’ve got my costume, complete with wings. Seriously though, is it cosplay if we are already superheroes?”

Nightstar appeared, dressed in armor covered in camouflage patterns. He wore a large rifle. “Here I am, Future Soldier, leader of the Destroyers, along with Chillfrost,” he said, indicating a woman in an icy blue and white bodysuit, “and Pulsar,” he said, indicating a man in a bright red uniform.

Chillfrost spoke with Solaria’s voice. “I can’t believe that Snowfall and I had to both dress up as villains with powers that are the opposite of ours. I mean, how am I supposed to pretend to use ice powers?”

Snowfall, who was dressed as Pulsar, answered, “I’m going to cover for you. You gesture dramatically, and I’ll make it snow around you.”

She rolled her eyes.

“At least you aren’t a human bee,” said Ion, as he pulled on his black and yellow suit. “Buzz.”

“What about you?” said Chillfrost/Solaria pointing at Rigel.

“My costume’s material is psychoactive. I can change the colors and form up to the limits of the material, so being Screamer isn’t that hard,” Cori replied. “I think this is going to be fun. After all, the mayor said that I was supposed to do anything I had to in order to make sure we caught Defiance.”

With a thought, Rigel’s costume transformed into the black and purple of the villainess Screamer.

“I’ll use my TK to simulate sonics and yell a lot. This is nice. We actually look like the Destroyers. Everyone ready to kidnap the mayor?” Rigel asked.

Nightstar snapped on his helmet. “We’re ready,” he said.

“I’m not,” said Ion. “I can’t get these wings or antennae right. Who wears this sort of thing?”

“Hornet does,” said Rigel, adjusting Ion’s wings and antennae with her telekinesis.

“Thanks,” said Ion.

Cori heard Nightstar’s thoughts, “I delivered the costume via teleport. Matt approves and he’s outside the gates, waiting for things to go crazy before he tries anything. He knows what to do.”

Rigel smiled as she looked out the front window. The mayor’s limo had arrived. She watched him get out with his bodyguards. A flock of reporters pulled up behind him.

“Rockslide, I need you,” she thought.

Rockslide rumbled into the front hall. “I’ll try not to make this hurt too much,” said Cori.

He nodded.

With that, Rigel telekinetically lifted Rockslide into the air and tossed him through the front doors. She quickly stepped through the fallen doors in her Screamer costume. As she saw the mayor’s bodyguards draw their weapons, she telekinetically ripped them from the hands that were holding them, making sure not to gestures and flung them in the direction of Nightstar, wearing his Future Soldier armor.

She dropped the guns at Nightstar’s feet.

For his part, Nightstar announced through the voice altering microphone in his helmet, “Step away from the mayor and no one gets hurt.”

“Where’s Freedom Squad?” shouted the mayor, who stepped toward them instead of running and hiding.

Chillfrost jumped out. She dramatically swept her arms from side to side. “They are on ice!” she yelled.

A wall of ice formed behind the mayor, separating him from his security detail.

Rigel found herself thinking what a pain it would be to protect this man.

Pulsar/Snowfall and Hornet/Ion managed to make their way outside. Hornet was struggling a touch with his suit.

Future Soldier aimed his modified blast rifle at the mayor. “On your knees, now!” Nightstar said, his voice completely unrecognizable.

The mayor’s face went pale. He dropped to his knees.

Even as she walked toward the mayor, she felt a little guilty. She shot a glance a Rockslide who lay inert on the green lawn. Although Rigel knew that the mines in the lawn had been deactivated, she still worried. She had let him down gently, and she knew that he was ready to move the moment any real super-villains arrived.

She half-considered warning the mayor, but since Poltergeist had been manipulated by the Ace of Spades, why not the mayor? After all, who would suspect the mayor, and he would have access to all of Freedom Squad’s information. In fact, the mayor had been the one who had chosen all of the team members.

Rigel came to a stop. What if the mayor were the Ace of Spades? What if Defiance was after the mayor because he knew that the mayor was the Ace?

She looked at the mayor again. Nightstar was playing the part of Future Soldier well, demanding a ransom of a hundred million dollars for the mayor’s safety and the safety of the city’s beloved Freedom Squad, but Rigel was only half-listening. She could find out if the mayor was the Ace of Spades.

All she had to do was go into his mind. If he were the Ace, a simple brush of his thoughts wouldn’t reveal anything, but a deep dive into his memories would certainly tell her the truth. But she couldn’t do that.

Who would she be if she invasively went into the mind of someone because she had a suspicion? How would she be any different than the Ace? Was this the type of decision that caused Psionicist to become the Ace of Spades?

“Screamer, buzz, buzz,” said Hornet. “Are you, buzz, okay, buzz buzz?”

She almost hadn’t noticed Ion in his Hornet outfit come up beside her. “Yes, I’m just hoping that the right decisions are being made,” she said in as cruel a tone as she could muster.

The Ace of Spades had nearly killed Alex. He was lying in a bed inside the building behind her. If she reached into the mayor’s mind and found out that he was the Ace of Spades, she might be able to stop that from ever happening to anyone else again.

And she’d never be able to look Protector in the eye again.

She had tricked Daniel, but she had known that the Ace was manipulating him. She didn’t like what she had done, but she had a reason, not simply idle speculation. She had gone into Carlos’ mind to find out what she could and she had helped him. Now, she was lying to the mayor, pretending to be a villain. She had also kept Velocity hidden, just to give herself a weapon that the Ace didn’t know about.

This whole plan, pretending to be the Destroyers, capturing the mayor, was done with one goal: to draw out Defiance.
She wondered if he was going to come.

A swirl of darkness formed on the lawn, and Defiance was the first of the villains to step out of it.

The plan had worked so far. Now came the hard part.

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Posted on November 26, 2013, in Freedom Squad, HeroNet Files, NaNoWriMo and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Chapter 18, going up for you, Gambino. Thanks for reading!

  2. Cliff Hanger…nice and cruel at the same time.

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